A high bid of $850,000 for a rare custom-built 1968 Bizzarrini Manta concept car was rejected by the seller at a recent auction held by Gooding & Company in Monterey, Calif., as reported on Friday, August 24, 2012 by CNN, KGTV 10News San Diego, and other media sources.
The one-of-a-kind 6-foot wide lime-green automobile was based on a racing chassis, called the “Bizzarrini P538”. The “P” was meant to represent the word “posterior” for its rear-engine placement. The “538” signified its 5.3-liter, 8-cylinder engine.
Giotto Bizzarrini was an automotive engineer who had worked for Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Iso Rivolta. He favored using Chevrolet or Ford engines in many of his cars, which were able to achieve top speeds of up to 186 miles an hour.
The Bizzarrini Manta was the first independent design of Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A., founded by Italian artisans Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani. The company, which is based in Moncalieri, Italy is still in operation, employing about 800 people.
Over the years, they have done design work for various models of Alfa Romero, Fiat, Lamborghini, Maserati, the 1973 VW Passat, the 1974 Volkswagen Golf, the 1978 Audi 80, and many other automobiles.
The Manta was first exhibited at the 1968 Turin Motor Show. Through an unexplained shipping mishap, it was lost in transit after being exhibited in Tokyo and Los Angeles. It was finally rediscovered at a Port of Genoa customs auction about 10 years later, and had gone through several owners before being offered this August by the Pebble Beach classic car auction house.
However, the seller turned down the high bid, disappointed that the expected reserve price of $1 million to $1.5 million was not reached.
The unique vehicle has appeared on the cover of Road & Track Magazine, and possessed several unique features, all part of a package that had earned it the title of “most influential concept car of the 1960s.”
Driven by a rear-mounted 5.3-liter, 400 horsepower overhead valve (OHV) Chevrolet Corvette V-8 engine, assisted by 4 Weber DBOE carburetors and a 5-speed ZF manual gearbox, the car had head-spinning muscle power. It was also ahead of its time with 4-wheel servo-assisted disc brakes and independent 4-wheel double wishbone suspension with coil springs for improved braking, cornering, and handling.
Yet the oddest feature of all, a triple front seat, with center-drive configuration, having the steering wheel in the middle of the dashboard, quickly died out. Due to the car’s extra large width, it was unlikely that the driver would be elbowed by passengers seated on either side.
According to the ConceptCarz website, the current owner purchased the Bizzarrini Manta in March, 2005 in a nearly restored condition, and invested still more money to have the one-off car returned to factory appearance in 2006 by Rod Drew of F.A.I. in Costa Mesa, Calif.
That owner was apparently dissatisfied parting with the showroom-like classic car for under a million dollars.
The unusual vehicle has won First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2005 and a class award during a showing at Amelia Island, off the coast in Nassau County, Fla. in 2006, as seen in these extensive photos.
It is still up for sale for those with the required large bankroll. For all others, dreaming about the Bizzarrini Manta is always an available option.
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